Monday, May 22, 2017

Sneak Peek at Love on Longboat Key

~Coming June 2017~
Julie stretched out her long pale legs and flexed her even paler bare toes. She could hardly believe her good luck. Just yesterday she’d been bundled in a down coat and fur-lined boots, yet now she wore white cargo pants, a thin cotton T-shirt, and red rubber flip-flops. Basking in the warmth of the Florida sun took some of the sting off spending the holidays with her quarrelsome mother and father.

Sitting under the Bodhi fig tree on the outermost edge of the park was her favorite thing to do. Years ago, the Bodhi tree had been toppled in a hurricane, but thanks to conservation efforts, it had been replanted, taken root again, and thrived. Julie loved the idea of sitting beneath a tree that had overcome the odds. She thought of this bench under the Bodhi as her personal refuge, the spot where she always found all the peace and quiet she craved.

Until today.

The longer Julie sat there in delicious silence, the more she became aware of a voice. A male voice. A louder-than-necessary voice. She turned and glared at the tall, sandy-haired guy crunching down the shell-lined path. He was so busy half-shouting on his cell phone he didn’t even give her a glance as he walked to the edge of the railing that hemmed the water.

For all Julie knew he was yet another self-absorbed thirty-something guy, the kind she often saw in the hallways at work, who gathered his sense of self-importance from how tightly he was tethered to his iPhone. He sure was dressed the part of an insurance executive on casual Friday, in a crisp blue Oxford shirt, khaki pants, and leather deck shoes. He only lacked the socks. And he was taller than normal. In the halls of Pilgrim Mutual, his head probably would have grazed the tiles of the low ceiling.

In any case, he was disturbing the peace. Julie felt annoyance surge within her until she heard him say, “No, Mom, I don’t think that’s what Dad doesn’t matter, so give it a rest...come on, it’s Christmas, I’m here for all of a week, is it too much to ask for you to just get along with each other?”

His conversation came to an abrupt end. He pressed his thumb down on the phone and cussed the F-word under his breath. When he turned back, his forehead wrinkled and his jaw clenched, Julie recognized all too well his look of frustration, since whenever she had to deal with her mom and dad, she felt her own face tighten in exactly the same way.

He let out an exasperated breath when he saw her. “Sorry.”

“For what?” she said.

“Swearing. Arguing. And otherwise interrupting your Zen.” He gazed over his shoulder at the calm water of the bay. “I’ve been here less than twenty-four hours and already my parents are driving me crazy.”

“Join the club,” Julie said.

“You here for the holidays, too?”

Julie nodded. “It’s like being a teenager all over again.”

“Exactly. Only they’re the ones who crack up the car and need to be grounded for misbehaving.” He looked down the shell-lined path. “Are your parents here with you?”

“No, they’re home arguing about graham crackers.”

“Graham crackers?”

“Don’t ask and I won’t tell.”

“Fair enough.” He smiled. “Mind if I sit for a sec?”

Julie scooted over on the bench. Ordinarily she wasn’t drawn to guys who looked like they could have been college basketball players. And she wasn’t overly fond of the preppy look, but there was something endearing about the rolled sleeves on his pressed Oxford shirt, his creased khaki pants, and his boat shoes. He needed only to put on a navy blazer, a striped tie, and a pair of socks to look like an overgrown schoolboy.

Bench where Julie meets Joseph
Love on Longboat Key
Julie Joseph dreads spending Christmas in Florida with her cranky elderly parents. Yet that changes when she arrives at Sun Tower and meets the eligible bachelor whose equally quarrelsome parents have just moved into the penthouse.

Thomas Briggs IV is hardly the type Julie has dated in the past: he's tall, handsome, and out-of-this-world wealthy. He's also the son of the CEO of Pilgrim Mutual Insurance, where Julie works as a copywriter.

She has just a few days to date Thomas before they both have to return to the ice and snow blanketing the Northeast. There's one big problem: Julie's rival for Thomas's affection happens to be her gorgeous, but mean-spirited, CEO boss at Pilgrim Mutual.

Can Julie overcome the odds to win Thomas's heart?

Love on Longboat Key is a sweet holiday tale about finding romance on the beach. Preorder at the Champagne Bookstore soon!

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